Desperation nearly got him to bid too much

Dream home

Hunt: Jason Manuel was tired of finding a perfect home only to have it sold to another buyer. When the next gem turned up, he and his wife, Lisa, compromised on their bid - which was accepted.

May 19, 2002|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Most experts say that it is a good idea to have a general idea of what you want when looking for a new home. Lisa and Jason Manuel knew exactly what they wanted. "We were very specific," he said.

At the time of their house hunt two years ago, they were engaged to be married and looking for their first home. He lived in the Rodgers Forge Apartments. She lived with a friend who owned a house in nearby Lake Walker. Both liked the area, and she really wanted a house like her roommate's.

"What I really wanted was her house," she said, jokingly. But the roommate wasn't selling, so the couple started looking for their own place.

The Manuels didn't want the typical "starter home" of many young couples. "I didn't want a townhouse," she said.

"We knew we wanted an individual home," he said, "with at least two bedrooms and two floors. And we wanted a fireplace and a yard for the dogs. We wanted an older house with hardwood floors and of course we wanted something in our price range."

The couple knew that with everything they wanted - the house, the yard, the fireplace, all for about $120,000 - they'd have to look in the city. "You get more house for your money," she said.

So they concentrated their search along a 2-mile stretch from Mount Washington to Belvedere Square. "We stayed focused," he said. "We looked at about 10 or so houses over the course of three weeks," she said.

Several times, the couple thought they found "the one," only to lose out in the end. They found a house in Lake Walker that seemed perfect, but it sold the day after it went on the market.

Then there was the Mount Washington house that sold the same day they looked at it. The Manuels worried they might lose out on the next one.

Then they saw a house a few blocks from Belvedere Square that seemed to fit their checklist. "I knew it when I saw it, that this was it," she said.

"I didn't think we'd find our dream home, but this place had everything," Jason Manuel said.

"It even had a red door, which is something I wanted," Lisa Manuel added.

The house was listed for $115,000. "I said I'd do $125,000. It was perfect. Who cares over the course of 30 years that you paid a little more?" he said.

But the Manuels' real estate agent knocked some sense into him. "She said, `Jason. What are you doing? Let's try the asking price,'" he recalled. "But I didn't want to lose out on this one."

Lisa Manuel tended to agree with the agent. So the three went back and forth. Her husband proposed offering $1,000 more than the asking price. The trio finally compromised on offering $115,500 - $500 more than the asking price.

And their bid was accepted. The Manuels made their offer at 7 p.m., three hours after first viewing the house.

They moved into the house in November 2000, and it was everything they wanted.

The home was in perfect move-in condition, the couple said. The kitchen had been recently remodeled with new white cabinets and countertops.

Lisa Manuel, who loves to cook and recently started her own pastry business, appreciates the extra counter space that was created and the wooden pot rack that was left by the former residents.

They also left the wooden window shutters, curtain rods, blinds and curtains, which matched quite well with the couple's furniture.

"They even scrubbed everything before we moved in. It was completely spotless," she said. "All we had to do is unpack. We were able to hold a housewarming the second weekend we were here."

The only thing the couple had to do was paint, Lisa Manuel said. They made a bold decision to paint the pure-white master bedroom a deep ruby red. The room gets a lot of sun, and she wanted something a little less bright and a little cozier.

The couple's two dogs, Lilly, a Dalmatian, and Sanbar, a Weimaraner, especially enjoy the sunroom adjoining the living room and the big yard.

The Manuels also enjoy the flagstone patio off the kitchen. That wasn't on their wish list, but now that they have it, they can't live without it.

"We have great neighbors. ... Many of them have been here for years," Lisa Manuel said.

Her husband likes the convenience of being so close to his job.

The couple acknowledge that when they tell people they live near Belvedere Square, some people frown, thinking the couple live in a less-than-desirable neighborhood. Those same people are usually astonished when they see the property.

Tucked away on a quiet tree-lined, one-way street, one can barely tell that Northern Parkway is so close to the Manuels' home. "We're in the city, but we have a nice yard and it's peaceful here," Jason Manuel said.

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